[game_edu] Implications of students going into a male-dominatedindustry?
ai864 at yahoo.com
Tue Sep 20 16:50:39 EDT 2011
Wow, I definitely seem to have hit a nerve cluster here.
Adam Parker says:>For me, the real question is: where can we draw a line, saying "we've
>done our best" with the problem? Where does it cease being our issue
>and start becoming one where we rely on those outside our practice?
>And therefore what actual impact can we expect to have? This is not to
>abdicate responsibility, but to know our pragmatic limits and thus
>work within them effectively.
To me, I think part of my responsibility is raising awareness that this is an issue at all. My students are going to go into what may be a hostile workplace, and they need to be prepared for that. My hope is that in the long run, as more sensitive students enter the workforce, there will be an industry-wide culture shift. In 5 to 15 years when today's graduates rise to positions of power and prominence in the industry, they will be able to carry more influence. So I think as with every other aspect of game dev, my job is to educate and inform, and then let the students go do whatever they will do, and cross my fingers that I've done good enough :)
Anthony Hart-Jones says:
> I think we have thankfully outgrown parts of the 'longboat culture',
as you name it, with half of the developers I
>know (male and female)
being married, often with kids.
Duke Nukem Forever and Metroid: Other M suggest otherwise ;-)
>The main discrimination I have seen is not overt sexism, not
disparagement of women's work or role, but rather a
>low level of
sexualisation. In some cases, it borders on sexual harassment, but it
often appears to be more a low
>level of unconscious flirting (sexual
irritation?) which the women in question just put up with. The worst
>this is that I am sure the men in question (usually management
and almost exclusively 40+) would be mortified to
>discover that they
were making anyone uncomfortable
This has been my experience too, not just with females but also minorities and LGBT. The devs I've worked with have generally been an open-minded bunch, but we're often oblivious to these issues. Is it "racism" if four white artists are discussing how to model a black character in the game, and they say things like "well, he should have an afro, right? And gold teeth... how many gold teeth should he have?" (Yes, this example comes from a true story, or so it was related to me as such.) No malice is intended here, it's just a bunch of white dudes who have only ever hung out with other white dudes trying their best (and failing) to grasp a subculture to which they are totally ignorant.
>For my part, I think the best argument for equality is simply
working with women.
Chicken-and-egg problem. The solution to a hostile-to-women environment is to attract more women. The solution to attracting more women is to fix the toxic environment. Which comes first?
>I am going to be the person to
disagree almost completely. I am not opposed to women in games, let me
>Nor am I in support of discrimination or the poor behaviour
sometimes displayed by my contemporaries. Instead,
>I am opposed to many
of the measures considered, and differ in my opinion on the magnitude of
>Firstly, some context: I am a caucasian male in my
twenties, and I speak from my experiences as a student and a
>professional developer in Australia.
With all due respect, Nathan, saying "I'm a white guy and I don't think there's a race or sex problem" is a bit optimistic. I've never had a female student complain to me that she felt marginalized - but is that because I teach my classes in an inclusive way, or is it because I send off the same subconscious "only boys allowed" signals as everyone else, and no one feels comfortable confronting me because I'm in a position of power? How would I know? There is literally no way that I can answer that question through personal experience alone; I have to specifically seek out people in the development community who are women, minorities, LGBT, and so on, and ask them. And when I do, the resounding answer I get is that Yes, This Is A Problem.
>The imbalance in the industry is simply the fact of the situation, and it being so is not causing any harm.
AAA games routinely target straight white males, and thus exclude well over 50% of their potential market. How is running at <50% of your potential profitability NOT a problem? (Okay, I admit that's a bit of an exaggeration, since there are plenty of gamers who will play these games in spite of not being specifically included, or even in spite of being indirectly excluded. But even a 5% drop is hundreds of millions when you're operating at the scale of EA.)
As for it being "simply a fact" I'd have to ask, why? Would you be willing to make the argument that one sex is genetically more predisposed towards game development (or gaming) than another? The only studies I've seen on the matter show that once you remove environmental factors, the gender gap instantly evaporates.
I don't think anyone here is advocating quotas, so much as offering an environment that gives everyone an equally welcoming and engaging atmosphere. It's like any other pedagogy -- if you're a visual learner you are predisposed to teach visually, and thus it will be harder for students who are aural or kinesthetic to really grok your class. Attract a department with all visually-oriented teachers, and you'll find that suddenly 90% of your student population is visual learners. Then you say it's not a problem, the field just lends itself to visual learning, it's just how things are. But if you found that incorporating a variety of teaching styles can reach and engage non-visual learners, then you are excluding a lot of students who really should and want to be there, aren't you?
>Encouragement is good, bribery (excessive bursaries and other
financial inducements) would just be sexism by
>another name. Denying
funds to men which you offer to women is still gender-bias of the worst
kind, no matter
>that you might put a word like 'positive' before
I wouldn't even say "encouragement" so much as "lack of exclusion." If women are systematically marginalized in an academic program, if male students are allowed to say sexist remarks in class and not be called out for it, if even the professors make such remarks in class... I would not classify the problem as "gosh, our department has an unbalanced male/female ratio, we should try to attract more women." I would say the problem is "our department drives away females by sheer brute force, and we need to stop doing this because it is stupid." It's not about meeting quotas or applying an artificial load-balancing algorithm. It's about finding ways to detect the reasons behind any imbalance; honestly assessing whether the gender (or race, or whatever) disparity is due to the randomness of statistics or other controllable factors; if controllable, honestly deciding whether these factors are excluding students who would like to learn game dev but choose not
to because of the environment we provide.
That's my two cents, anyway.
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